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M. Ward's Uncertain 'Post-War' World

M. Ward looks to the great unknowns that lie ahead.
M. Ward looks to the great unknowns that lie ahead.

The notion of a finite end to the current Iraq conflict seems almost impossible to fathom — and whenever it happens, it probably won't follow the outline of Hemingway's The Sun Also Rises and other literary accounts of lives rebuilt in the aftermath of war. That hasn't stopped gifted singer/songwriter M. Ward from looking to the great unknowns that lie ahead. Envisioning what awaits, he tempers his default idealism to ponder soldiers coming home scarred, as well as the mood in America as the country begins to take stock, in a long-view way, of what has happened.

The title track from Ward's remarkable Post-War, this weary, trancelike spell of a song anticipates that moment of reckoning. It's lazy and slow, shot through with ambivalence, and its message remains mostly shrouded in shadows. It doesn't bring solutions or add to the rhetoric of grief — instead, the sleepy tenderness of Ward's voice, framed by pedal-steel guitar, offers an aura of consolation, a vague and non-threatening place from which some sort of healing might begin. Recognizing that words are inadequate responses to lives forever altered, Ward makes no moans of protest and few outright declarations, though "I know that everything feels wrong" is one. He's looking a ways down the road, and the tremble in his voice indicates that the "post" reality, whenever it comes, may turn out to be as difficult as the current one.

Listen to yesterday's 'Song of the Day.'

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Tom Moon has been writing about pop, rock, jazz, blues, hip-hop and the music of the world since 1983.